Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:24:36 AM EST
It's a recent discovery and one that allows me a rather lazy recap of some of the latest developments in Greece: EUobserver's Austerityland blog by Leigh Phillips has probably provided the best English language summaries of recent events in the country and the slide to a defiantly non-democratic version of a permanent emergency state.
In Puppies and Ice Cream
Phillips explains the four steps that the Greek (let's face it, extreme-) right wing government employs to contain popular dissent and fight the opposition:
- Distract attention from the cuts, by stoking up racism
- Use arcane laws to break strikes (and indeed the government has indicated in the past few days that it wants to go down the road of making legal strikes anything from very difficult to impossible)
- Accuse your opponents of terrorism (featuring Zizek among others)
- Crack down on dissidents: squats, social centers and generally "settling accounts with the post-1974 era" as the Public Order Minister announced (that is the period after the fall of the junta)
front-paged by afew
As Leigh Phillips points out this strategy...
In many respects... does come down to a bit of a Hail-Mary pass - the last best hope of a democratic government before it turns into something else, so it's not recommended in anything but the most extreme circumstances. Still, other European leaders should at least familiarise themselves with these tactics should the economic and political stability of their countries ever, Heaven forfend, take a similar turn to that of the Hellenic Republic...
...I admit that all of this may seem like a high-risk strategy - the immigrant round-ups, the use of arcane junta-era laws intended to be used in times of foreign invasion or viral haemorrhagic pandemic in order to break strikes, accusing opponents of terrorist sympathies, and the police crackdowns on dissidents.
But when the state has surrendered all its economic authority to international organisations, and handed much of its civil authority over to black-shirted thugs, how else do you prove to your people that you're still there?
The junta-era laws LP mentions were very quickly reactivated again after he wrote this: This time against striking private sector sailors and seamen who, I should add, were striking both to receive wage arrears that on average were around six months and to demand that the shipowners honor the wage deal that they had signed with the unions and hadn't expired. So people were forcibly conscripted back to the docks to continue working unpaid... This as LP points out is part of the rise of labour conscription in Europe and the fact that Greece has been eager to come down on unions with such force has as much to do with its mortal fear of being over-run by the communists as well as with signaling its "good boy" status to its "lenders":
...Athens and other peripheral capitals have a credibility problem when it comes to their commitment to pushing through unpopular measures, and many of the toughest labour market `reforms' in much of the periphery have actually yet to be imposed. So it cannot have escaped the Greek prime minister's mind that this is a great way to demonstrate to international lenders his iron determination to enact their demands
Vassal states signaling their subjugation by mass sacrifices of their weakest members: that is today's neoliberal EU, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, 2012.